Windows 9 Preview

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What goodies are in the pipeline for Windows 9? September 30th marks the official debut of the next Windows (codename ‘Threshold’) at a Microsoft special event, but a few sneak peeks are already out there.

UPDATE 10/1: In the immortal words of Nigel Tufnell, ‘Well, it’s one louder’…
Windows 10 is the official name for Microsoft’s next version of Windows (The Verge)

New Start Menu

It looks like Microsoft is really out to please desktop users this time around.

Leaked video of Windows 9 in action shows a new Start Menu that has more in common with its classic incarnation with the interesting addition of some mini-sized Windows 8 tiles.

 

Notification Center

A new notification center will make its debut, functioning in a similar fashion to those found in Android, iOS, and OS X.

 

Multiple Desktops

The Windows 9 taskbar has an icon for creating an unlimited number of new desktops/workspaces. A feature Linux and Mac users are very familiar with finally making its way to Windows.

 

Modern UI 2.0

WinBeta reports that a revised Modern UI will include interactive live tiles on the Start Screen, updated on-the-fly similar to Android’s widgets.

Some Windows tablets will lose access to the legacy desktop completely, with all operations being done on the Start Screen and inside apps. On the flipside, it’s also rumored that users on desktop PCs will bypass the Modern interface on start up.

Desktop users may also be able to run what are normally fullscreen Modern UI apps in resizable windows.

 

Losing Its Charms

If the gossip is true, it’s sayonara to the Windows 8 Charms Bar for desktop users (possibly tablet users too). While not too bad on a touchscreen device, it was harder to use with a mouse and keyboard. Existing apps will get a title bar with menus to hold their Charms.

 

Digital Assistant

In addition to the earlier videos, German website WinFuture also posted some screenshots of digital assistant Cortana (think Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri) running in an early technical preview of Windows 9.

 

Desktop Gets Flattened

Over at The Verge you can find a gallery of screenshots showing the ‘flat’ look-and-feek of the Modern UI working its way into the traditional Windows desktop, taskbar, explorer, and applications.

 

So What Do We Call It?

Rumors are that Windows Threshold/Windows 9 may simply be called just Windows. This is in keeping with comments made by CEO Satya Nadella that all Windows devices will converge on one OS in the future with Universal Apps at the core of the move.

 

How Much?!

Another tantalizing rumor is that Windows 9 may be offered free à la Apple, in part to entice XP hangers-on over to the latest version of the OS.

UPDATE 9/28: Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro confirms Windows 9 will be free for Windows 8 users.

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